Understanding your Writing Coach Clarity score

14 Nov 2019

The nthuse Writing Coach will eliminate unconscious bias and boost the readability of your job adverts. It does this by analysing your writing for four key things:

  1. Correctness, spelling and grammar
  2. Clarity, readability and jargon
  3. Biased or non-inclusive language
  4. Structure and format

In this article, we’ll explain the importance of clarity and readability in your job adverts and how nthuse calculates your clarity score.

The importance of clarity and readability in job ads

According to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, up to 16 million adults – nearly half the UK workforce – are holding down jobs despite having the reading and writing skills expected of children leaving primary school.

However, most job adverts have a reading level over 18. That’s the same level as academic papers and legal documents, so there’s a mismatch between our population’s reading level and the way we write our job adverts.

“But I’m hiring rocket scientists. I’m looking for people that are highly intelligent.”

Reading level doesn’t just affect how much of your advert people understand. It affects how quickly and easily jobseekers can scan your job advert for important information – regardless of their reading and writing skills.

The lower your advert’s reading level, the easier it will be for candidates to engage with your job advert and work out whether it’s right for them. Using plain language and simple sentence structures will help you:

  • Get your message across in the shortest time possible
  • Avoid misunderstandings
  • Reach a larger audience
  • Be understood by people who use English as a second language

There’s a misconception that long sentences, big words and showy vocabulary make you sound smarter or more professional. It’s simply not true.

A 2012 study by Christopher Trudeau found that 80% of people preferred sentences written in plain English. It also found that people with specialist knowledge had an even greater preference for plain language, because those with the highest literacy levels tend to have the most to read. They don’t have time to wade through pages of complicated content. They certainly don’t have time to read your 5 double-sided A4 job advert.

How does nthuse calculate clarity?

Your Clarity score is calculated based on three things:

  1. The Reading Level of your text
  2. The Readability Score of your text
  3. The number of language style and jargon alerts present

Reading Level

You should aim for a Reading Level between 9 and 14.

The higher the Reading Level, the more complicated your language.

The Reading Level score is similar to Reading Age. It’s an assessment of the education level required to understand your job advert. For example, a job advert with a Reading Level score of 18 would need a university degree to understand it.

Readability Score

You should aim for a Readability score between 60-70.

The lower the Readability Score, the more complicated your language.

The nthuse Readability Score is based on the well-known Flesch Reading Ease score. It grades your text between 1 and 100 by analysing the average length of your sentences combined with the average number of syllables per word.

Text with a very high Readability Score is straightforward and easy to read. Usually, a Readability Score of between 60-70 is considered normal for web content, like job adverts.

Language Style Alerts

nthuse highlights and provides suggestions for complicated and unclear language. We look for words or phrases that are unnecessarily long or imprecise and suggest clearer alternatives.

There are five types of Language Style Alerts:

  1. Acronyms
  2. Jargon
  3. Simplify
  4. Passive Voice
  5. Readability

Unresolved Language Style Alerts will negatively impact your overall Clarity score.

How can I improve my Clarity score?

nthuse will give you tailored feedback and suggestions to improve your Clarity score, but here are two focus areas that will help you write clearly and concisely.

Use an active voice

In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action. For example, “The CEO attends the meetings”. The CEO is the subject and they’re doing the attending.

In a passive sentence, the subject is either missing completely or relegated to the back of the sentence. For example, “The meetings are attended by the CEO” or “The meetings are attended”.

A passive voice can create indirect and impersonal text and is best avoided in job adverts. You can tell if your sentence is passive by asking yourself “who is doing the action?”. If this person or object is missing or is at the end of the sentence, you’ve got yourself a passive voice.

Reduce sentence and word length

Long sentences and complicated words will make your advert hard to read. Try splitting long sentences in half to help readers absorb more information and avoid words with more than 4 syllables.